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About: Meet Our Writing Instructors

Office of Writing Instruction

Staff in our Office of Writing Instruction work with students throughout their coursework and into their drafting of preproposal documents for doctoral capstones. They provide writing instruction in paper reviews, at residencies, in webinars, on social media, and more.

Brittany Rogers

Brittany RogersWriting Instructor

Brittany Rogers has a BA in English and Creative Writing from Hiram College and an MFA in Creative Writing from the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts (NEOMFA) program at Kent State University. For the past 8 years, she has taught writing at various institutions of higher learning. Her work has appeared in Still, Heartwood, and the ECC Literary Anthology. She lives in Northeast Ohio.

Cheryl Read

Cheryl ReadWriting Instructor and Coordinator of Asynchronous Course Visits

Cheryl Read earned her PhD in English from Duquesne University and her MA and BA in English from the University of Minnesota Duluth. She has taught academic writing at a variety of institutions since 2009 and has been with the Walden Writing Center since 2017. She loves helping students figure out how they can best convey their ideas to an audience of readers and especially enjoys figuring out the organizational “puzzles” of works in progress. Cheryl lives outside of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Claire Helakoski

claire helakoskiWriting Instructor

Claire Helakoski obtained her MFA in Creative Writing from Georgia College in 2015. She also holds a BA in Creative Writing and French from Grand Valley State University. Claire presented on the pedagogy of teaching writing at AWP national writer’s conference in 2015. She has also presented at the Michigan Academy for Science, Arts and Letters conference. Claire has taught English Composition, Literature and Creative Writing courses as well as acted as a writing center tutor, editor for Arts & Letters literary journal and a freelance copy and manuscript editor. In 2013 her work was nominated by Georgia College for the AWP Intro awards competition. She is originally from Michigan and lives in Grand Rapids.

Grete Howland

Grete HowlandWriting Instructor

Grete received her BA in English from Westmont College in 2003 and earned an MA in Creative Writing and Literature for Educators from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2014. Before joining the Writing Center in the fall of 2019, Grete spent 7 years teaching English and humanities at the middle and high school levels. As a teacher of adolescents, Grete’s focus was on using progressive pedagogy to foster academic confidence and a life-long love of learning in her students. She has also worked as a private tutor and freelance copywriter and editor. Grete’s creative nonfiction writing has been published at Across the Margin and Tiny Buddha. Originally from Northern California, Grete now resides in Portland, Oregon.

James A. Horwitz

James A. HorwitzWriting Instructor

James received his MA and MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, having first earned undergraduate degrees in both English and Psychology. James has taught at the college-level for over 13 years and is passionate about: student-learning, mentoring, and helping student writers develop their work.

Julia Shiota

julia shiota Writing Instructor

Julia Shiota joined the Writing Center in 2015 after completing her Master’s in English at the University of Chicago and a Bachelor’s in English from St. Olaf College. She has been interested in education for years and has had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of students. Her background includes teaching literacy skills to elementary school students and high school students, as well as instructing scholarly writing skills at the college and graduate level. Her academic interests include global Anglophone literature, modern Japanese literature, and critical theory.

Kacy Walz

kacy walzWriting Instructor

Kacy joined the Walden Writing Center staff at the end of 2016. She received her undergraduate degree from Gonzaga University where she double majored in English and History, and earned an accidental minor in Philosophy. After a year spent in the AmeriCorps service organization City Year, she completed her MA in English at Boston College in 2011. She is currently working on her dissertation for a PhD in English Literature from the University of Missouri. She lives in Columbia, Missouri but is a Minnesota native at her core.

Lauri Barnes

Lauri BarnesWriting Instructor

Lauri Barnes earned her PhD in English rhetoric and composition from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. With over two decades of teaching experience in higher education, Lauri has focused her career on helping both monolingual and multilingual writers of English communicate their ideas effectively. Through encouragement and motivation, Lauri helps students examine their writing process to see what is working well and what may need additional revision to be more successful. She poses questions to help students develop as scholars whose writing reflects critical thinking and analysis. She enjoys creative and research writing, traveling, and studying languages. Lauri, her husband, and their three children live in the panhandle of Florida.

Matt Sharkey-Smith

Matt Sharkey-SmithSenior Writing Instructor
Contributing Faculty in CAEX

Matt joined the Writing Center in 2010 with a BA in English from Saint John’s University in Minnesota. He earned an MFA in Writing from Hamline University in Saint Paul in 2011 and has worked outside of Walden as a technical writer, fact-checker, copy editor, tutor, and writing instructor. He lives in Minneapolis.

Max Philbrook

Max PhilbrookWriting Instructor

Max Philbrook has been working with graduate and undergraduate writers since 2008 and joined the Walden Writing Center in 2015. Max studied writing at the University of Missouri (doctoral coursework), the University of Minnesota Duluth (MA), and Gustavus Adolphus College (BA). Max comes from a family of workers, helpers, and tinkerers, so knowledge and intelligence of all kinds are celebrated in Max's work with Walden's scholar-practitioners. Max enjoys the role of supporting Walden writers as they develop their voice for positive social change in their personal and professional writing. Max lives in Minnesota on land and water that is the current and ancestral homeland of the Ojibwe and Dakota people.

Meghan Barnes

Meghan barnesWriting Instructor

Meghan K. Barnes joined the writing center in late 2015, after working both as a composition and literature instructor, and an educational project manager. She holds a BFA in Professional Writing & English, an MFA in Nonfiction Literature, and a MAT in Post-Secondary Adult Online Education. These degrees lead to multiple opportunities including a Fulbright Scholarship to study the nonfiction work of Sylvia Plath in England, three Pushcart Prize Nominations and four book publications.

As a writing instructor at Walden, Meghan works to help students master the tools needed to become critically literate citizens. She is excited to watch as her students grow and begin publishing within their fields.

Originally from the North, Meghan now resides in Charleston, South Carolina with her dog, Ziah.

Michael Dusek

michael dusekWriting Instructor

Michael Dusek joined the Walden Writing Center in October of 2015. He holds a BA in English from the University of Minnesota–Duluth and an MA in English Studies from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Michael has taught composition at Minnesota State University, Mankato as well as University of Wisconsin–Stout. In his professional life, he enjoys working with students and improving their writing. The idea that an essay is expressive as well as formal is a cornerstone of the way he views writing. Michael believes that approaching a writing project as a creative problem-solving activity can alleviate apprehension that students often encounter. In his personal life, he enjoys the outdoors, books, music, and all other types of art.

Tasha Sookochoff

Tasha Sookochoff Writing Instructor

Tasha Sookochoff joined the Writing Center in the fall of 2017. She has a BS in Technical Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Stout and an MA in Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse, with an emphasis on teaching composition, from DePaul University. She also has a graduate certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from DePaul. Tasha is passionate about adult literacy, creating safe communities for women and minorities, and the convergence of education and technology. She has written documentation for the U.S. House of Representatives that increases government transparency, blogged for DePaul University, copy-edited the Journal of Second Language Writing, tutored immigrants and refugees at literacy centers, and taught academic writing to college students.

Veronica Oliver

veronica oliverWriting Instructor

Veronica Oliver received her PhD in Rhetoric and Composition, with an emphasis on community literacy and intersecting rhetorics of identity, from Arizona State University (ASU) in May 2015. Previous to attending ASU, Professor Oliver received a master's degree in rhetoric and composition (Southern Illinois University) and a bachelor's degree in theater (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee). Born in Minneapolis, Veronica grew up predominantly in Wisconsin, although she has also lived in Los Angeles and Chicago. As a writing instructor, Professor Oliver’s passion is guiding students with developing their ideas on paper.